Three Trae Young Trade Destinations

Trae Young
Trae Young / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Trae Young's relationship with the Atlanta Hawks does not seem very good right now. On Monday, The Ringer reported Hawks ownership gave the new front office full leeway to do whatever it takes to improve the team this offseason -- including looking into trading Young, one of the league's young superstars. When asked about the report on Tuesday, Young himself said it, "could be false, could be true, you never know," which is very Zen and also not really the sort of strong "ignore outside noise" denial that most players would've given in his place.

After that, Shams Charania reported some weird stuff about the team closely watching Young's workout habits and the lack of trust reflected in that.

This could just be a lot of noise surrounding a franchise in the last days of a lost year as it tries to find a new path forward under Quin Snyder, who was hired in February to replace Nate McMillan. Or it could be the first public cracks in the relationship between star and team, forewarning a trade that will change the future of both parties.

If it is the latter, the Hawks would be well-suited to ship Young out before things get worse. For all his flaws (especially as a defender), Young is one of the few guys in the NBA capable of being an offense unto himself. This year was a down year and Young still averaged 26.2 points and 10.2 assists per game. The tricky thing is he'll make $40 million next year in the second year of his supermax contract extension. It's difficult for any team to match that in a trade.

But there are plenty of possibilities out there regardless and many teams would be interested in acquiring a 24-year-old star point guard, deficiencies and all. Here are a few possible trade destinations for Young if the Hawks do shop him this summer.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are sort of in a weird spot where they don't have any of their own draft picks so there is zero incentive to tank. But they don't have a clear path to acquiring a legitimate superstar and thus are doomed to run the treadmill of mediocrity for the foreseeable future. Mikal Bridges looks like he can be a 20 points per game scorer and All-NBA defender, which is obviously good, but he alone will not be moving any needles. Brooklyn should therefore be on the hunt for a potential running mate to get the franchise back into legitimate contention and Young is a tremendous fit on that front. Bridges' defensive capabilities means the Nets can hide Young wherever. Young could run the show offensively and Bridges is a better secondary scorer than anybody he has had by his side so far.

As stated, the Nets don't have any of their picks but they do have multiple Suns picks from the Kevin Durant trade, and they own some tasty late-decade Mavericks picks that will generate interest as that situation continues to deteriorate. Sending out Cam Johnson (likely to get about $20 million per year) and Joe Harris, or Spencer Dinwiddie along with two draft picks seems like a good starting point. The Hawks will be hoping for a better return but the Nets have enough assets to be in the conversation.

Oklahoma City Thunder

This is an enticing option for multiple reasons. The Thunder, obviously, have an insane haul of draft picks that will convey over the next five years, and they legitimately cannot use them all. Young is a hometown hero as the University of Oklahoma's best player since Blake Griffin. They're finally out of the basement but still have a leap to take before they are annual playoff contenders, and Young can help them with that. He would also solve their biggest problem as a team right now, which is consistent outside shooting. Young didn't have a great year statistically from deep but there's reason to believe it was an outlier. There is no group better suited to cover for him defensively than OKC's cadre of long-armed wings that Sam Presti has been hoarding for years.

The primary issue here is that the Thunder don't really have any big contracts to trade outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- who will obviously be off the table in all trade talks. But if a third team can get involved to match salaries and the Hawks are happy getting a boatload of picks and maybe standout rookie Jalen Williams in return for their franchise cornerstone, OKC is as good a fit as you'll find.

Portland Trail Blazers

This trade would make almost no sense for Portland but that's sort of been the status quo recently as the Blazers try to appease Damian Lillard, while also paying him supermax money. So it can't be ruled out, especially since Portland has a few contracts that would make salary-matching pretty easy. Anfernee Simons will make $24 million next year and is probably the best player Atlanta could hope to get in a Young trade -- a firecracker of a scorer on a pretty reasonable contract for the next three years. Portland could also offer up Shaedon Sharpe and whatever high pick it gets in this year's draft to help sweeten the pot. Throw in one more contract and the deal is pretty much done.

This is the sort of trade the Hawks hope they'll find -- a desperate team willing to overpay in picks and young talent to get a deal done. The Blazers can show Lillard and their fans that they tried to do right by him, and maybe their combined offensive firepower would overcome the glaring defensive issues with the pairing. The Hawks get two potential cornerstones and at least one high pick. Both sides get what they want, even if it might not be smart.